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'The Food Still Goes in the Trash'

We were inundated with letters responding to Eric Stoessel’s editorial last month asking school foodservice directors for their opinions on the increasingly public and political debate between the USDA and SNA on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. He wondered what the people in the trenches really thought about the tougher requirements coming this year.

I just read your editorial in the June issue of Food Management. You are correct in saying that we all want what is best for our children. Our district is very rural and very small—2,000 students. Seven years ago I introduced salad bars in all four of our schools. About five years ago I started whole grain foods as they were available. You would be absolutely proud to watch middle and high school students come through the salad bar and make their salad, take jicama and we cannot serve enough fresh orange slices or fresh apples.  

The students also pick up whole grain dinner rolls without batting an eye. My one and major problem with the new regulations is the mandatory 1 cup of fruit or vegetable that MUST be taken with each meal. I would say 98% of my students are happy to take the fruits and vegetables, BUT there is always the 3-5% who absolutely refuse. So in the elementary schools we serve the 1/2 cup on the students plate so they cannot refuse it and we hand the student in middle or high school an apple or other fruit knowing full well it will go in the trash.  

We have set up "sharing" tables at each lunch area so that if a student does not want something they do not have to throw it away, but rather put it on the sharing table for someone else to have. This is not a great idea in middle or high school, the food still goes in the trash.  

Many directors, myself included, love to offer all these wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables to our students. And for the most part many of our students take advantage of the offerings. Why do we have to force those who absolutely do not want a food to take it?

Charita Devereaux
Director of Nutrition Services
Nuview Union School District
Nuevo, CA

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